The internet is a good way to understand what people think about your brand and product & services. People are very honest on these platforms. But there is one downside to it. People tend to talk more negative than positive about the brands. The challenge is to give them a solution online, for the query or problems they are facing and convert them into real value offline.
Since it is easy to write and publish content online, web has become a personal diary for all. To add to the benefit there are a number of platforms that allow you to write whatever you wish. However, for brands it has become a task to make sure people do not write anything negative about them due to certain incidents and even if they do, brands constantly strive to attend those issues online or offline. One thing we need to keep in mind is that you cannot keep everyone happy. But if you can track most of the mentions you can solve many a crisis.
In order to make reputation management easy online there are 3 steps we need to follow:
Step 1: Monitoring
As we mentioned earlier there are many platforms where people express good and bad views about a brand or their experience with them. Those platforms, in India can be broadly classified into blogs, discussion forums and opinion forums. Apart from these there are social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ where friends who are connected with each other online share their views.
We come to the first step that is monitoring. If you wish to know what is being said about you through online conversations you will need to monitor them first. And to do this task you need have a very alert warning system.
There are various tools that help you do so effectively. There are a few free tools and few come for a price.
Once you have set up a monitoring system for your brand you should also track what you competitors are doing or what people are talking about them also. Moreover, tracking general news and developments also help you grow as a brand and understand industry position and standards. While tracking positive and negative mentions also track slangs that people use online For eg: fail, sucks, not happening etc.
This is the first step. Unfortunately this is not enough. You need to take steps to make sure the damage done is not too much and solve it before it goes out of hand.
Step 2: Analysing
As we mentioned earlier, the work does not get over at monitoring. It is crucial to understand and then analyse the social reviews for your brands. This task consists of going through the feedback, complaints, comments and appreciations expressed online,
A conversation may be positive or negative. Both needs equal amount of attention. It is similar keeping the old customer happy and getting new ones via old customers.
What is most important is that you let your audience know what that you consider all their feedbacks. Also keep them informed about the status of query that you needed to solve. Make them feel they are part of the decision making process. Let them know you are listening.
A failed communication can not only break your rapport with one customer but also negatively influence that customer’s peers and circle. A one to one communication can make or break your image in public.
There is common notion among brand managers that if we delete the comment everything will be back to normal. There are 2 things to be remembered about ORM. There are some platforms where all you can do is answer and not delete. Secondly, when the query is not solved the person can also do a word to mouth negative publicity of yours and you will keep wondering what went wrong. It is thus, wise to attend them tactically. Do not fear of negative remarks. Harsh criticism only helps you to grow. You just need to know how to handle it.
Step 3: Influencing
This is the most crucial step in online reputation management. Consider a case where you have received a negative review about your brand or service. Will you let it go or take matters in hand and defend your company?
The speed of internet is not going hand in hand with Public relations principles and working pattern. Mostly by the time you realize there is a crisis, the damage is already done. So you have to be quick and efficient in answering the queries to put a check on it. Since business organizations are able to connect with people and they are back by social monitoring system, they can tackle such crisis effectively.
Participation is the key
First thing first. Always remember Consumer is the King. If they have opinions regarding your service or product you have to make the necessary changes to make things better for them. You should establish a good communication with them even if they are speaking ill about you. This shows you are open to suggestions and are willing to do all you can to add value.
Experts have said that the best tactic to counter attack a negative comment is to answer it with positive mention. You can influence and change the mode of conversation by being a part of it. It gives you a chance to change or improve the perception of your brand.
It is not necessary that you can be a part of a conversation only when there is crisis. You should involve yourself in industry discussions and become a regular contributor on forums and discussion boards. If the conversation is about your brand then lead it. If it is a general query then give solutions. You can be open and honest about the limitation of that solution with your brand. Do not promote other brands but still give a suitable solution. The benefit of this exercise would reflect when you have a negative comment to tackle. The page rankings would help you drastically to control the situation in hand.
The bottom line is, even if you do not do this exercise on a regular basis you should be able to handle the crisis situation when it occurs.
Choosing right technology
Mostly, it is sufficient to answer someone positively on a negative remark to make an impact. But you should also try to make your presence wider that it is currently. Internet is vast and to reach right people at the right time you will have to segment them properly.
Selecting the right platforms for the right audience thus becomes important. Many businesses favour social media technologies like Facebook, Twitter and some other popular ones. Still, there are complaints that the brands are not able to reach people. Just because Facebook and Twitter are the most preferred websites doesn’t mean all your audience is present there.
Engage the customer on the right social network to build online reputation.
The above three steps should be performed in harmony. Each step is as important as other and linked to each other. Following them will surely help you create a positive reputation online.
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